Open house guidelines updated as Stage 3 looms for GTA communities







Photo: James Bombales

As outer communities within the Greater Toronto Area prepare to enter the provincial government’s third stage of reopening this Friday, Toronto’s real estate board has issued safety recommendations as it readies its realtors for the return of open houses.

Today, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) published a guidance document[1] for realtors on best practices for in-person open houses. The document comes one day after it[2] was announced that Durham, York, Halton and other regions would be entering the third stage of pandemic reopening on Friday, July 24th.

The in-person open house property listing feed to public facing websites such as TRREB.ca, REALTOR.ca and the internal TRREB MLS® System will also resume activity on Friday in Stage 3 regions, TRREB stated in the press release.[3]

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Already, 24 of Ontario’s 34 public health units were moved into Stage 3 as of last week, allowing in-person open houses to resume in those communities. Open houses were prohibited province-wide in April to reduce the spread of COVID-19, leaving thousands of agents to transition to digital alternatives. TRREB is advising realtors to continue using virtual methods, and to use physical open houses only when necessary.

“TRREB is still recommending that its Members continue using alternative marketing strategies for sellers, such as virtual open house tours that can easily be accessed by buyers, and to conduct in-person open houses as a last resort,” said Lisa Patel, president of TRREB in the press release. “If directed by a seller to conduct an in-person open house during Stage 3, Members should comply with all required government and public health and safety measures to ensure safe showings.”

The five-page best practices document outlines recommendations for health and safety protocols and planning. Realty professionals are advised to leverage technology to reduce in-person contact, such as virtual viewings and signing documents remotely. When planning for an open house, agents have been asked to conduct qualifying screens and focus on serious buyers while encouraging a pre-registration process in order to limit attendance.

Typical COVID-19 social distancing and safety measures have been stressed as well, including providing hand sanitizer, setting up markers or barriers and reducing contact with high-touch surfaces by leaving lights on and interior doors open.

“While in-person open houses should be a last resort, the decision to hold an open house will be at the real estate brokerage level following all public health and safety protocols and subject to their client’s decision and the risk to the REALTOR®,” said John DiMichele, CEO of TRREB in the release.

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